Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Worries and Urges of People with OCD

Many of us have little superstitions and rituals which help us to become productive and produce positive results. However, when these 'rituals' are taken to extremes and begin to affect normal daily function, it becomes a problem.

When you start feeling that something will really go wrong simply because you are not wearing your favorite lucky shirt; that you would feel the need to wear it almost every chance you feel like something will go wrong if you don't; that even if it's already in the laundry bin, you would prefer to wear it over fresh clothes because if you don't things might go really bad. Or when your mother has to return home even if she's already outside the door just to check if the flat iron was unplugged when she already did 3 times earlier, it could be Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD.

OCD is a mental health condition that creates a strong sense of uncertainty, doubt, anxiety, or fear in a person's mind and triggers rituals like re-checking and re-doing. Although sometimes, everyone may feel anxious, fearful, or worried, these normal emotions and reactions help people protect themselves, stay safe, and solve problems. These feelings usually don't last long and don't come too often.

In the case of people with OCD, these feelings are taken to extremes as if the brain does not recognize what's dangerous from what's not. There is a constant and lingering stream of fear, doubt or anxiety in the person's mind, instead of keeping normal worry under control.
OCD is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts, known as obsessions, and repetitive behaviors, also called compulsions or 'rituals'.
People with OCD are pre-occupied with persistent thoughts that bring fear or worry about something that might happen. These negative thoughts and images are usually hard to shake off.

They have strong urges to perform these rituals or repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning with the hope of preventing or getting rid of obsessive negative thoughts.

The obsessions and compulsions are sometimes related to each other. A person who worries (obsession) about germs and about getting sick could have the urges (compulsions) to wash hands or clean things often and repeatedly. They are too cautious to touch anything due to fear of germs.

There are times when the compulsions or the 'rituals' doesn't have anything to do with the obsessions or fear. For example, if things on the desk are not arranged properly, something bad will happen to a loved one. The oddity of the rituals and fear are so obvious that many people try to keep their OCD to themselves.

When people with OCD perform a compulsion or 'ritual', they feel a sense of relief. Unfortunately, performing these so-called 'rituals' only provides temporary relief, but significantly increases the anxiety or the obsession. Resisting compulsion can be extremely difficult.

There is a strong evidence that OCD can be hereditary. Like any other illness, having OCD is not a person's fault. The good news is, it can be treated with the help from a Psychologist or Psychiatrist. There is nothing to be embarrassed about getting therapy treatments and counseling from a psychologist or psychiatrist.

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